High School Sweethearts Pursue Actuarial Science Dreams Together

Braden States and Jackie Westman came to Lebanon Valley College together for actuarial science

It’s claimed absence makes the heart grow fonder, but one LVC couple proved otherwise. 

Jackie Westman ’19 and Braden States ’19 began dating while attending Dubois Area Senior High school. They shared many interests, but one stood out the most—their love for math. 

“When I started considering what I wanted to major in, I knew I wanted something math related, but more interesting than just math. One day, Braden and I were researching some math-heavy majors and careers, and we stumbled upon actuarial science. I knew then I wanted to pursue that career,” Westman said. 

The young couple found their field of study, but the search continued for the school that would best suit them. 

“Jackie stumbled upon LVC first, and after visiting the campus and hearing about the program, she told me I had to go see it. I felt the same way she did, so it was an easy choice,” States said. 

Six years later, the couple is now planning the next phase of their life together after getting engaged last December in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

States graduated from LVC in May, while Westman will graduate in December and recently accepted a full-time position at Guardian Life Insurance Company of America in Bethlehem, Pa.

During a 10-week summer internship at Guardian, Westman worked on short-term disability pricing for the company’s group product. At the end of her internship, she gave a presentation on her project, which she says strengthened her communication and oral skills. 

“Something I really enjoyed about this project was the time sensitivity. My manager would come to me almost every day with something new or a fix based on feedback he’d received from other people who were using my work to price the plan. I felt like I was doing meaningful work there and as an intern, I never expected to be able to do something like that,” Westman said. 

Currently, States serves as an actuarial assistant at Guardian Life, where he sits on the Life and Expense Pricing team. He focuses on life insurance rates, testing new rate factors, changes to workflow, ad hoc assignments when needed, and presenting his findings to actuarial managers and chief actuaries. 

States credits LVC in providing him the tools he needs for this position. 

“Being able to communicate effectively and efficiently is very important in my role, and that’s something LVC, and especially the math department, pushes their students toward,” States said. “I feel like actuaries have a stereotype that they’re quiet, keep to themselves, and only understand numbers, but I am talking with colleagues and managers daily, and have to be able to communicate the results of my work in a way that’s universally understood.” 


- Huntre Keip, Marketing & Communications Intern